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Menlo Park: New Stanford-Arrillaga plan cuts medical office space by 74 percent

Original post made on Apr 10, 2013

As promised, this week Stanford delivered an overview of the latest revisions to its plan for El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 12:26 PM

Comments (38)

Posted by member, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Progress for sure, but still not enough housing units!
We have a dire housing shortage here on the Peninsula.
This development will causing rents and home prices to skyrocket even more.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm

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

The phrases 'take it or leave it' and 'last offer' come to mine.


Posted by Marie, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm

So they cut office space and take a lane of traffic away. Come on folks we don't need this complex of offices. Go find and utilize all the office space that sits vacant. Greedy


Posted by Enough, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm

"Member" You must be living in some fantasy land if you think there are not enough housing units on the Peninsula. What a load of garbage. The prices were high in the past, are high now, and will continue to be high so long as this is a desirable place to reside. Cramming more and more and MORE people into a finite amount of land is not the solution. The prices were comparatively high in the 1970's when you could buy a nice family home in a nice neighborhood for under $100,000. That was back in the day when the only time highway 280 was clogged was when a major crash had occurred. Why do you think our roads are chronically clogged today? Too many people.
NO MORE HOUSING UNITS!!!!! NO MORE OVER-DEVELOPMENT!!!!


Posted by Advocate, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm

The purpose of adding all this dense housing is, in effect, to lower housing values by making the area less desirable to the current market.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 2:29 pm

For all of you who are advocating more housing: I hope you don't complain when traffic increases; and there are less parking places downtown; and our overcrowded schools ask to expand and want more money.

This is a domino effect.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Enough said it. Double the property taxes and put in a park.


Posted by Easy Does It, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm

In spite of the Almanac's optimistic headline about Stanford decreasing its planned medical offices by 74%, the fact is that Stanford has merely rearranged the deck chairs on its Titanic. They've reduced the medical office space by 71,000 sq ft, but have ADDED an additional 41,000 sq ft of general office space to the overall plan. But even that apparent 30,000 sq ft reduction is a mirage, since they've also added 22 more housing units, which, at approximately 1,000 sq per unit, would mean that the entire project is a trifling 8,000 sq ft less than the plan the University brought forth last November.
Besides which, what the city needs on El Camino, is RETAIL! Certainly not an office park.


Posted by Patterson, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Retail will not thrive on that side of El Camino. Stanford can contribute immensely to our tax income, rid us of the blight, and provide housing in a key area close to transit.

Concessions are great. Fail to provide approval of a sound plan is once again defeating our growth in Menlo Park. When does it end. The tyranny of public special interests groups are preventing any progress. Think about the recent past history. Let us move forward to create the completion of El Camino. Perhaps another car dealership would be attractive?


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:19 pm

There you go Patterson. Something Peter Carpenter and I have been saying for the last few weeks. Nice to know there are others that get it. It would be nice if they posted here more often in opposition to the screaming meemies that are totally anti-growth, anti-development, anti-following the established process and anti-change.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Besides which, what the city needs on El Camino, is RETAIL"

You are not paying attention. Retail will not work in ECR-East.

As posted here is an expert opinion on the issue:
"Roxy Rapp, who owns the property at 644 Emerson St., also advised against the change and told the council that when it comes to downtown Palo Alto, the old maxim "Location, location, location" applies. Stores outside the "downtown core" of University Avenue often have a hard time staying in business. Rapp gave as an example his building, where two successive shoe businesses came and went after brief stints and where Fraiche Yogurt leased space for three years before moving elsewhere (an office now occupies the building).

"Retail is so tough today that it's very tough to make it out of the core," Rapp said."

Menlo Park can't get retail to work on Santa Cruz and with the Stanford Shopping Center next door retail will NOT work on ECR-East.


Posted by Andrea, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 11, 2013 at 1:02 am

Retail that has a different bent than the Stanford shopping center could work. Menlo Park and Atherton is filled with athletic sports enthusiasts- young and old. It would be fantastic to have an athletic dominated retail destination anchored by an REI and filled with other successful active shops such as footlocker, goetz brothers. Sling it Lacrose, a tennis shop. A golf store, a large bike store, etc. It could also house some fun places for kids and adults to be active - a climbing wall facility, a trampoline facility, an I fly wind tunnel, Etc. These places would generate revenue and be a great healthy, local destination that our growing population of children could walk and ride to.


Posted by Our town, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 11, 2013 at 7:59 am

That would be a perfect location for a mini-Santana Row. I could see it as a sports mall, as Andrea suggested, or as a mall with a local flavor instead of the Stanford chain stores. There would be a lot of traffic from Stanford mall shoppers. As Peter noted, stores that are off by themselves don't tend to do so well, but if that site were mostly or all retail, it would be a huge hit. Throw in a Whole Foods and I'm there very day.

An office complex will give the city a one-time bump in property taxes, and thereafter will be a drain on resources. And, as Easy Does It noted, the latest plan iteration doesn't represent a decrease in square footage at all. Stanford's giving Menlo Park the middle finger because they're determined to dump their excess traffic onto our section of El Camino. We need to keep pushing back.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2013 at 8:50 am

Andrea & Our town, HUH?? You both just described developments that would not only increase traffic in the AM & PM when people go and come from work (as happens with housing and office space), but would generate traffic all day long throughout retail store hours. a mini-Santana Row, wow! Also, why would a land owner desirous of developing its property to generate a return on that asset build something that is going to compete with another of its asset's ROI (Stanford Shopping Center). Stanford listened to the critics, made some modifications that would address some of the concerns and still produce a project that "pencils out" from its perspective. Personally I would not have "negotiated with myself" as they did. I doubt they will be willing to go another round in that mode. I absolutely agree with Peter, Save Menlo should be grateful for Stanford's willingness to modify the project even though it fully complied with the current zoning, declare victory and embrace the project--but, alas, that won't happen until the lawyers start getting paid.


Posted by Andrea, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 11, 2013 at 11:11 am

To: WhoRUpeople

The reason I suggested a sports focused retail and activity complex in Menlo Park was multi - fold:

- Provide an income generating location for Stanford and tax generating location for Menlo Park that would be in high demand due to the demographics of our local Menlo Park and Atherton population

- Create a location that doesn't compete with the Stanford Mall due to it's mid-range sports focus, as opposed to the high end fashion focus of the Stanford Mall

- build a development, that due to its appeal to local residents, won't be creating a mass amount of traffic (many of these stores and facilities are also a couple towns away), particularly not at rush hour, that will get used on the weekends as much as during the week, which serves the dual purpose of increasing income and diminishing peak hour traffic, and that our local population, including kids, can walk and ride to.

So, in summary, build something:

- in high DEMAND BY our LOCALS
- WON'T cause traffic problems
- will PRODUCE REVENUE for Menlo Park and Stanford

(As Our Town mentioned, a local Whole Foods would be wonderful as well - again, high demand by locals, not a rush hour draw, strong revenue)


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"An office complex will give the city a one-time bump in property taxes, and thereafter will be a drain on resources."

Property taxes get paid twice a year, every year! 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.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

If people don't like the current owner's ideas, why don't they buy it and develop it themselves?

Then they can see what it's like to face a persistent group of whiny people who always seem to know better than you and have no hesitation about telling you what to do with your money, land and assets.

I remember this same group telling us how BevMo would destroy the town, bankrupt current retailers and bring in a new wave of crime.

Geniuses.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Has anyone notice CVS Pharmacy is going in near Bev Mo? Liquor and drugs will support the new development and Safeway will become the new blighted lot.


Posted by Andrea, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Can anyone clarify whether the planned housing has restrictions on the number of bedrooms and overall sq footage in EACH individual unit?

Given the huge challenges the Menlo Park School District is facing in housing the continued substantial growth in student population, and the excessive demand for park and field space for the existing children in Menlo Park and Atherton, I hope that IF the town gives the green light for a large number of housing units in this location, it will REQUIRE that these units are limited to ONE BEDROOM/ONE BATH/ONE PARKING SPOT, built to attract individuals without children, who work locally,and have a strong desire to walk, bike and use public transportation. (and if the adjacent retail was sports oriented, they could have their bikes serviced and walking/running shoes replenished in their same complex - and climbing walls, trampolines etc. to use in their free time :-) )

As so many have mentioned, our 2 towns and combined school district don't have the space (nearby schools and sports fields) to support continued growth in young families without degrading the existing quality of life for our current residents.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Sam
The CVS in the Sharon Park shopping center is next to a Safeway, a liquor store, and a lot of other stores --- no problem at all.

I don't understand what point you are trying to make.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I hope that IF the town gives the green light for a large number of housing units in this location, it will REQUIRE that these units are limited to ONE BEDROOM/ONE BATH/ONE PARKING SPOT"

The city cannot legally do that just as it cannot require senior only housing. The effect of such limitations is housing discrimination which is against state and federal laws.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From the 28 Jan 2013 Planning Commission meeting minutes:

"He said the City Attorney had advised that the City could not require or incentivize senior housing to the level at which it caused disincentive for family housing as related to Fair Housing laws."


Posted by Homeowner in the suburbs, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Peter,

Why do you want to turn our mostly lovely, tree-lined, low density west Menlo Park into a packed city and our main thoroughfare into a smog congested parking lot?

There are better ways and better locations to satisfy the housing needs and there are better ways for Stanford to utilize the space.

Yes, it's their property and their dime, and fortunately they continue to be open-minded, realizing it's in their best interest to be great neighbors. Some of the decision makers may even live here and realize they'd prefer not to be living in a high density town with a continual traffic jam.

We worked hard so we could afford to live in a neighborly, low density town, with quality schools. If we wanted a busier or less expensive place to live, we would have worked less and chosen to live elsewhere.

The brainstorming that's going on is fabulous. Kudos to Stanford for taking it into consideration!


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Homeowner in the suburbs
1. Why do you want that ugly blight on El Camino left there for one more minute?
2. Why didn't you oppose the master plan when you had the chance? It was approved for exactly this kind of development.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

POGO, so happy to hear from you on this issue; and, as usual, you nailed it! What POGO said!!


Posted by David Roise, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 11, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Two points:

1. The new proposal from Stanford is definitely going in the right direction, but it would still worsen Menlo Park's jobs to housing imbalance. Go back and read Adina Levin's guest opinion in the Almanac on February 20 (Web Link). Using her equations, the revised proposal would still create roughly 800 new jobs (at 1 job per 250 square feet of office space). Even with the 20 additional housing units, the ratio of jobs to housing for the project would be nearly 5, far worse than the desired ratio of 1.5. All those new workers need to come from somewhere, since there aren't enough places for them to live locally, so unless there is some really good traffic mitigation, there will necessarily be more traffic as a result of the project.

2. Whether or not retail will be successful in this location depends on the nature of the development and the nature of the retail businesses. Given the gridlock that already occurs on this stretch of ECR, it would be nice if the businesses didn't depend on customers driving their cars to the location but rather served those who live and/or work nearby. Office workers are generally only around on weekdays during normal business hours, however, so there is a significant limit to how much they would support a nearby business. This is another argument for increasing the density of the housing in the development, decreasing the amount of office space, and increasing the space devoted to businesses that serve the neighbors (residents and workers). From a business perspective, "high density" is just another way of saying "more customers".

The bottom line is that it is very difficult to create a vibrant, livable, sustainable, and diverse community from a blank slate. (See Jane Jacobs, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities".) I hope that Stanford will continue to apply its considerable resources and talents in trying to achieve such a result through this development.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Months ago I suggested that Stanford give priority for the housing in its ECR project to people who work in the complex - result would be zero commuting trips for those individuals.


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm

"Peter, why do you want to turn our mostly lovely, tree-lined, low density west Menlo Park into a packed city "

@Homeowner, @Homeowner, @Homeowner, you only *think* you wish to live in such a low-density environment, but as Peter has decreed elsewhere, "Menlo Park doesn't want a Village!" (Please see my comment near the end of Web Link, which begins "So many ridiculous claims in this thread alone, Peter.") Never mind the fact (a true fact, Peter, not the sort you dabble in) that maintaining our "village character" was one of the chief stated goals of the final Visioning Plan. No, never mind that -- older, wiser souls on the periphery of Menlo Park have divined our true need and it will only be attained with 4- and 5-story glass office behemoths and their attendant, unmitigatable traffic.

Honestly, it truly is heartening to know that as we Menlo Park residents muddle our way through an understanding of Stanford's "November Surprise" and what it means for our city, the Insane Carpenter Posse (Peter, POGO, WhoRUpeople, et al.) are ever at the ready to support our efforts with their pretentious pontifications and wooden witticisms. But ask them how the project's traffic impacts may affect their commute or their trip to the grocery store, or the safety of their bicycling children, or what involvement they had in helping to develop our Visioning and Specific Plans, and you will be treated to the subtle strains of the proverbial Woodside crickets.

Pontificate from the sidelines all you wish, you clowns, but most of us see straight through your nonsense.

Gern


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Ah, once agian Gern steps in with the ad hominem attack and NO facts to back up anything he says. You have one factual document you can point to that backs up your claims that Stanford said they'd put in a hotel or senior housing Gern?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the chief stated goals of the final Visioning Plan"

GROUP 9
-Attract medical office uses

GROUP 5
-Higher density on east side of El Camino

GROUP 9
-Concentrate taller buildings on southern end of El Camino and Downtown

BUT the fact is that the adopted Specific Plan IS the will of the people and the law of the land and the proposed Stanford project COMPLIES with the Specific Plan.

Even village have rules and the Specific Plan is the rule of Menlo Park.


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 11, 2013 at 2:55 pm

"Why do you want that ugly blight on El Camino left there for one more minute?"

Because it's infinitely preferable to the unmitigatable traffic impacts 9,000 additional daily car trips will bring to that short stretch of road.

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - you have still, after at least 12 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.


Posted by Andrea, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 11, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Follow up regarding the specifics of the housing specs:

Peter, or anyone with knowledge of housing law and our housing requirements per the lawsuit, can you answer the following questions?

1. Does the lawsuit require Menlo Park zone for housing with a range of bedroom/bath options or is it acceptable to simply designate zones where in total 900 units of any size could be built?

2. Do fair housing laws require developers build an assortment of Bed/Bath combos or can a developer choose whatever configuration they'd like, including solely building 1 BED/1 BATH/ units?

3. How about parking? Is it okay to build a green housing complex that strongly disincentivizes car use by providing 1 or 0 parking spots per unit and zoning surrounding areas with no overnight parking so complex residents aren't gaming the system by overflowing into the neighbors' parking spots?

If Menlo Park can't legally require developers to solely build 1 BED/1 BATH units, but if developers have the freedom to choose unit configuration and Stanford is set on building some housing in this location, I hope they choose to do the responsible thing and go with 1 BED/1 BATH/limited parking - unless they want to build a new elementary school and playing field on the location as well. Bottom story retail, 2nd story housing, 3rd story school and massive rooftop field.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

1. Does the lawsuit require Menlo Park zone for housing with a range of bedroom/bath options or is it acceptable to simply designate zones where in total 900 units of any size could be built?

The city must provide 900 additional housing units of which 454 must be low income units.

2. Do fair housing laws require developers build an assortment of Bed/Bath combos or can a developer choose whatever configuration they'd like, including solely building 1 BED/1 BATH/ units?
Developers can decide what they want subject to the zoning ordinances ( for example no duplexes in single family zones, etc.) but the city may not dictate what they build in any way that discriminates against, for example, families with children.

3. How about parking? Is it okay to build a green housing complex that strongly disincentivizes car use by providing 1 or 0 parking spots per unit and zoning surrounding areas with no overnight parking so complex residents aren't gaming the system by overflowing into the neighbors' parking spots?
Zoning determines the required parking per housing unit. For ECR-East it is at least 1.85 spaces per unit per Table F 2


Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardina, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm

My preference has ALWAYS been to have an office within walking distance to my house (with the additional request for coffee within walking distance to my job). I was never happier than when my office was in (1010 ECR) the Kepler's/Borrone building and I could walk/bike/scooter to work.

This complex will put jobs near where we live, and near public transportation.

I sincerely hope you all get out of your cars and WALK to those medical offices, and businesses and relieve our streets of your traffic.

The development plan is like a sales commission plan: you describe what the commission rate is, and the sales team optimizes to maximize their return. Is anyone surprised that the developer did this? How many people in Menlo Park build a new house and build substantially below their FAR (Floor Area Ratio) limit? The answer is: very few based on the records at the planning department. so why would we expect a developer to?

I think they've done a great job to adjust their plan to public whining....but know this. Stanford has the patience of Job, and more money than God (see their latest $1B fundraising in 12 months) and they can wait us out. In which case we'll be looking at empty shops for years to come.........

Roy Thiele-Sardina


Posted by Andrea, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Thanks for the info, Peter.

So, I'm curious, do you see any downside if Stanford were to choose to build all 1 BED/1 BATH units in this location? Does anyone else have an issue with this?

Also, if Menlo Park were to alter the parking requirements, to accomplish the goal I stated above (attract people without cars), besides your issue with Menlo Park deviating from the plan it established, do you have an issue with this?

Re: the requirement for 450 low income housing zoning somewhere in Menlo Park, can these all be 1 BED/1 BATH if the developer so chooses?

Is there any reason you'd like to increase the population density in Menlo Park and/or increase the number of children?


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Gern -

If you were truly concerned about traffic in Menlo Park, you would have opened up that third lane of traffic on ECR long ago. But we know it is easier and more fun to frustrate the rest of us who need to drive through Menlo Park for you to selfishly reserve that valuable roadway for 20 minivans to dangerously park in front of a few stores on ECR. Never mind that it would be far safer for them to park in the back. And why use an arterial road for its intended purpose. Oh well, those frustrated drivers will just have to keep cutting through your neighborhoods.

But that's another thread, isn't it?

No crickets from this part of Woodside.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:03 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"So, I'm curious, do you see any downside if Stanford were to choose to build all 1 BED/1 BATH units in this location? Does anyone else have an issue with this?"

A smart developer will build want the market wants - subject to zoning and building regs.

Is there a stronger market for 1 BED/1 BATH units than for larger ones? I don't know.


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