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Tonight: MP council reviews Stanford project

Original post made on Apr 16, 2013

With many residents expressing opposition to Stanford's development proposal for 300-500 El Camino Real, the Menlo Park City Council will meet Tuesday night, April 16, to review the city's new downtown/El Camino Real specific plan as it relates to Stanford's project. ==B To watch the City Council meeting live,== [Web Link ==B click here==] and click on Channel 26.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 9:06 AM

Comments (3)

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Another tactic – removing Stanford's parcels from the specific plan boundaries – carries its own complications."

It certainly does.

Item F1 on the 16 April agenda has been posted as follows:

F1. Consideration of a Mixed-Use Development Proposal at 500 El Camino Real, including
options for the project review process.


The Brown Act requires that the agenda posting clearly identify the matter that the elected body is going to discuss and potentially act upon.

Section 54954.2. (a) (1) At least 72 hours before a regular meeting, the
legislative body of the local agency, or its designee, shall post an
agenda containing a brief general description of each item of
business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting, including
items to be discussed in closed session. A brief general description
of an item generally need not exceed 20 words.

The Attorney General provides this further opinion:

"The Act makes it clear that discussion items must be placed on the agenda, as well as items which may be the subject of action by the body."


Given that there is no mention or reference to the Specific Plan in the posted F1 agenda topic this would seem to preclude the Council from discussing any changes or modifications to the Specific Plan during their deliberations on item F1.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Peter, I know well the degree, source and commitment of your passion for compliance with the Brown Act; all commendable. In this instance, though, I do question whether there is an issue related to it. Perhaps this will be one more opportunity for me to become more enlightened in this area, but, that being said, here is my question. The agenda item F1 has incorporated (I believe in a legal sense "by reference") the staff report, including a link to easily and quickly access that report. Does that not fulfill the requirements of the Brown Act in terms of what is included in the Agenda announcement? In reading the staff report it clearly states as a goal, "Council's discussion for the review process, which is the primary focus of this meeting". I read all of this to indicate the discussion will be about process; and then, if and only if, Council decides to deviate from the process defined in the DSP and related zoning, would it then be required to go through the formal process to change the DSP. This all leads me to believe your previous prediction of a 2-2 vote will send it back where it belongs (PC) for now, but I honestly don't see an inherent Brown Act violation and I have a lot of respect for Bill McClure and his ability to advise Council during the discussion to avoid one.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The agenda item F1 has incorporated (I believe in a legal sense "by reference") the staff report, including a link to easily and quickly access that report. Does that not fulfill the requirements of the Brown Act in terms of what is included in the Agenda announcement?"

No. The law is clear that the posted material itself must indicate what matters are to be discussed. The Staff Report was NOT included in the actually posting. In fact the staff report makes this case even clearer because it shows what some people wanted to discuss, amendment of the Specific Plan, that was not included in the agenda description - it did not "to show the whole scope of the board's intended plans."

Here is some very relevant case law:

"The purpose of the brief general description is to inform interested members of the
public about the subject matter under consideration so that they can determine whether
to monitor or participate in the meeting of the body. In Carlson v. Paradise Unified
School Dist. (1971) 18 Cal.App.3d 196, the court interpreted the agenda requirements
set forth in section 966 of the Education Code. That section required ". . . [a] list of
items that will constitute the agenda for all regular meetings shall be posted. . . ."
(Carlson v. Paradise Unified School Dist. (1971) 18 Cal.App.3d 196, 199.) In
interpreting this section, the court stated:
"In the instant case, the school board's agenda contained as one
item the language 'Continuation school site change.' This was entirely
inadequate notice to a citizenry which may have been concerned over
a school closure.
"On this point alone, we think the trial court was correct
because the agenda item, though not deceitful, was entirely misleading
and inadequate to show the whole scope of the board's intended plans.
It would have taken relatively little effort to add to the agenda that this
'school site change' also included the discontinuance of elementary
education at Canyon View and the transfer of those students to
Ponderosa School." (Carlson v. Paradise Unified School Dist. (1971)
18 Cal.App.3d 196, 200, original emphasis; see also 67
Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 84, 87 (1984).)"

*******
Had the language in item F1 included specific reference to the Specific Plan there may well have been members of the public who would have wanted to participate in the meeting but who would not have done so given the posted language.

For example, the current posted language encourages participation by those opposed to the project in question but discourages those who wish to support the maintenance of the current Specific Plan because they have no reason to believe, based on the posted language, that the Specific Plan itself is even under discussion at this meeting.


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