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Original post made
on Aug 26, 2013
I encourage everyone to read the Subcommittee's final report. It is eminently reasonable and addresses all of the critical issues regarding this project.
The 500 El Camino Real Subcommittee recommends that the City Council accept its
final report which establishes the following requirements for a revised proposed project
submittal from Stanford:
1. Stanford will eliminate all medical office. All office will be general office (this
follows Stanford's previous reduction for all office to199,500 square feet).
2. Stanford will make a substantial contribution to the cost of design and
construction of a pedestrian-bike undercrossing at Middle Avenue. The amount
will be negotiated/determined through the project approval process with the goal
of ensuring there will be sufficient funding to construct the undercrossing in timely
3. Stanford will participate in a City working group regarding the design of the
Middle Avenue plaza, undercrossing and vehicular access to the site.
4. Stanford will fund a neighborhood cut through traffic study as scoped by the City. "
It is time to move forward.
The sub-committee hasn't finished its work. The traffic analysis hasn't even been completed so how could they have facilitated conversations about that between neighbors and Stanford.
There was no concession to pay for the traffic study; that was already required by the process.
The specific plan needs modified so the undercrossing can proceed in my lifetime. Right now, it's dependent on high speed rail accoding to the Plan. that part of stanford's offer could be in 15 years or never!
The medical office removed recently was 25,000 of a 450,000 square foot project. A help, but leaves a huge project that will generate a lot of traffic a little benefit to Menlo Park.
"The sub-committee hasn't finished its work"
PLEASE do your homework before making your posts - READ the report:
The 500 El Camino Real Subcommittee HAS COMPLETED ITS CHARGE and submits the recommendations enclosed in this final report to the City Council. It is expected that Stanford will draft a revised proposed project submittal based on these
recommendations. The revised proposed project will be submitted for staff review of its conformance with the Specific Plan. "
The uncompleted Subcommittee's charge was described in the groundrules it established with the neighborhood representatives. These are in neighborhood representative George Fisher's email to the Council
The verbatim text from the agreed-upon Subcommittee groundrules were:
The purpose of this Subcommittee isto provide a framework for discussing the issues related to the 500 ElCamino Project (Stanford) and to facilitate conversations between neighborhood representatives and the applicant prior to project submittal for consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council to ensure that the final project balances the needs of Stanford and the greater Menlo Park community.
"to provide a FRAMEWORK for discussing the issues related to the 500 ElCamino Project (Stanford) and to facilitate conversations between neighborhood representatives and the applicant prior to project submittal for consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council "
DONE - the framework has been provided. Now it is up to the Planning Commission and the City Council to take the next steps.
Note the signs on the Tesla dealership indicating the new and coming soon locations, in part replacing the now displaced menlo park location. This filibuster on improving our town continues to set us back rather than move us forward.
Menlo Park could learn some lessons from Seattle:
"When Amazon executives showed up last year for the first meetings about their proposal to build a new headquarters here three towers that would draw thousands of workers downtown city officials were taken aback. Not by the scope of the plan, but by the simplicity of the discussion. The executives said they were ready to break ground immediately on what would be one of the biggest development projects in city history."
"It was not a hard-boiled negotiation," said Marshall Foster, the director of city planning. "They basically walked in and said, 'We think this is the site.' " A shovel-ready company that clear and confident, and with the cash to back it up, "doesn't happen very often," Mr. Foster added."
so when did the Subcommittee "facilitate conversations between neighborhood representatives and the applicant [Stanford]"?
Hint: They didn't.
Just echoing Slow Down's sounding of Peter's latest lacuna, a most egregious "failure to do his homework." Had Peter read the City Council email log this month he might have happened upon George Fisher's message to the council, and might have had some inkling that zero (0) conversations were "facilitated" between neighborhood representatives and the applicant:
Folks - we live in a representative democracy not, thank goodness, a direct democracy. Just because they did not talk to YOU does not mean that our elected representatives have not talked to lots of other people.
"The Subcommittee has met with neighborhood representatives, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, representatives from environmental groups, representatives from Stanford University and City Staff. These meetings provided the Subcommittee with the necessary background and input to make the recommendations included in this report. "
And frankly why would Stanford want to talk with individuals who have pledged to fight this project "to the death"?
Peter seems not to understand that the subcommittee established written rules of engagement that specified what they would do. They didn't.
The traffic analysis hasn't even been completed, and the results of that are precisely what the neighborhood representatives have wanted the opportunity to address. The Subcommittee could help facilitate discussions about those results but instead, they've announced they've already finished their work. If the final report came after attempts to reconcile differences about the analysis, that would be once thing, but that analysis hasn't happened yet.
@Slow Down, it isn't so much that Peter doesn't understand the very straightforward failure of the subcommittee to engage neighborhood representatives -- it's just that whenever he finds himself on the factually scant side of a discussion he waxes reflexively about representative versus direct democracy.
"And frankly why would Stanford want to talk with individuals who have pledged to fight this project "to the death"?"
Perhaps because these individuals *live* next to the project, Peter, a trivial concern lost on denizens of Lindenwood, it would seem.
I realize from past experience that Gern would have a problem understanding the difference between representative versus direct as stated in Peter's post. No experience with Slow Down, but apparently same problem. Folks, you keep referencing documents supplied (email and otherwise) by those opposed to project as being the documents that set the basis for the purpose/mission of the subcommittee. It doesn't work that way (it would in a direct democracy), instead the subcommittee's charter is defined by the City Council (that is representative democaracy). Go back to the CC minutes and read the charter as approved by CC vote. It doesn't matter a bit what someone named George Fisher wrote in a public comment to the CC, that is not demoracy in action. At least not anywhere other than Menlo Park.
The question put to Peter and now you, WRUP, is a simple one: who were the neighborhood representatives with whom the subcommittee met? And what about "facilitating the productive communication of information between neighborhood representatives and the applicant" don't you understand in the subcommittee's charter? The nature of the charter isn't at issue here, in case that isn't clear to you.
Here is the communication charge from the council approved sub-committee charter:
" Facilitating the productive communication of information between neighborhood
representatives and the applicant, regarding project refinement that balanced the
needs of the applicant and those of the greater Menlo Park community prior to
the submittal of a revised project proposal. "
Note it states "the productive communication of information between neighborhood
representatives and the applicant,". It does not state that the applicant and the neighborhood representatives shall communicate directly/meet but rather that there be a "productive communication of information". At that is precisely what the subcommittee did - with significant results in terms of changes and commitments by the applicant.
"And frankly why would Stanford want to talk with individuals who have pledged to fight this project "to the death"?"
"Perhaps because these individuals *live* next to the project"
And what would they talk about - how to bury the project? And what power/authority do those people have to agree to anything?
This is why we have elected representatives who speak for the people.
Peter Carpenter writes: "This is why we have elected representatives who speak for the people."
Correct, and this is also why if we don't believe they are representing us, we can vote them out of office in the next election.
your are correct. But, voting them out of office is a far cry from the neighbors of the Stanford project having direct input into the process which is what they seem to be demanding. If they don't like what their elected officials are doing the correct action is, as you say, elect someone else.
@Gern-Peter's response to the question you posed echos my thoughts exactly. I think the difference in our views lies in our indvidual definition of "facilitate" and "between", thats all. Following up on comments about why it would be unproductive and, frankly, unwise, for Stanford to engage directly with representatives from SaveMenlo, I'll refer you to a question and answer from Councilman Cline to a fellow named George at last nights CC meeting. Rich asked if the group (SaveMenlo I assume) had a list of exactly what it wanted to see in the project, noting that thus far it has only communicated what it doesn't like about the project. The answer was, no. Again, to quote Peter, "what would they talk about-how to bury the project"?
The opponents to the project have a list of what they'd like to see. The visioning process encapsulated most of them, and Stanford's early stance (which they later reneged on) was that they planned a hotel and senior housing.
Read the emails to the council instead of trying to infer "facts" from "a fellow named George." I suspect that most residents would love to see first floor retail -- which is what we were shown in the early phases -- with second and third story offices over it. This would fit the scale of our city, provide much-needed revenue, and serve residents and employees alike. The current plan serves only Stanford to the detriment of the residents.
Stanford, the university, is becoming aware of what their real estate cousins are doing. Why? Because it's hurting their fundraising efforts. A lot of alums live in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, cities that will be negatively impacted if Stanford pushes its projects through. The Stanford plan will diminish the value of many formerly residential homes by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Who's going to want to donate to them? Plus it's bad PR for a university that is already rich.
"The opponents to the project have a list of what they'd like to see."
Yes, and it keeps changing and different opponents have different demands. Every time Stanford makes a concession then they want more. Stanford added more housing, removed ALL the medical offices, etc. and that was still not enough.
" The visioning process encapsulated most of them (list of what the opponents want)" Yes, and the visioning process also encapsulated a dense development on these parcels and many other things that have been incorporated into this project. The process of moving from a vision, which lacked specifics, to reality was the creating and adoption of the ECR- Specific Plan.
"The Stanford plan will diminish the value of many formerly residential homes by hundreds of thousands of dollars"
Finally the selfish interest of the few who are opposed to this project is flatly stated.
Against that the the is consensus of the rest of the community as reflected in the ECR Specific Plan that developing these parcels consistent with the parameters of the Specific Plan is a wise and needed outcome. And with lots of new workers on this site I suspect that the surrounding home values will be pushed UP rather than down.
Sorry to burst the bubble, but opposition to the plan from actual residents is widespread.
Ummm, if Stanford weren't being selfish, it would build a soccer field there. Why shouldn't we try to protect our kids, our neighborhoods, and our homes? Why must residents continue to have to fight just to keep what we already have?
My comment about Stanford's fundraising was totally misconstrued. But is it really "selfish" to point out that Stanford's actions will cost us far more than it can ever expect us to donate? Does the university want to alienate thousands of local supporters?
Problem is, Peter, you lost. The council agrees: the specific plan is going to be significantly revised. After it's been reworked, Stanford can figure out what it will be able to build. But it's not going to be the monstrosity they're proposing today.
I don't expect YOU to agree, but this isn't your city.
Alum - you make so many unsubstantiated statement - where do I start???
"opposition to the plan from actual residents is widespread." There is no evidence to support that statement. The total number of named, individual, real residents who have posted and or spoken at planning commission and council meetings and/or emailed the council is less than a hundred.
" if Stanford weren't being selfish, it would build a soccer field there." As I predicted long ago the opponents real agenda is for Stanford to provide a free park for "our" kids.
"the specific plan is going to be significantly revised." No, it is going to be REVIEWED. Any revision will depend on a majority of the council agreeing to such changes.
" After it's been reworked, Stanford can figure out what it will be able to build." But you and others will still continue to oppose whatever Stanford proposes.
Here is what Save Menlo ( a very presumptuous title) wanted:
"We are particularly concerned about:
1. Safety risks to pedestrians and cyclists crossing El Camino.
Increasing traffic on El Camino endangers our families and children who must cross El Camino daily to get to school. One of the chief goals of the Specific Plan was to make it easier for people and kids to cross El Camino. Middle schoolers from Linfield and the Willows must cross El Camino daily to get to Hillview school. High schoolers from Allied Arts must cross El Camino daily to get to MA Highschool. And preschoolers cross El Camino to get to Menlo Atherton Coop or to Menlo's Children's Center. In addition to the pedestrian traffic to get to school, there are a lot of families and children crossing El Camino Real daily to get to and from Burgess Pool, the new Arrillaga Gymnasium, and Arrillaga Family Rec Center.
Congested intersections at Middle, Cambridge, and even Ravenswood will worsen with the addition of considerable additional traffic concentrated in this area.
2. Safety risks to pedestrian and cyclists in the Allied Arts Neighborhood.
Allied Arts is a neighborhood with many families with young children walking and biking. Increased traffic on El Camino will lead to more cars cutting through neighboring Allied Arts. Increasing cut-through traffic within the Allied Arts neighborhood adds dangers to our children and family members. The residential streets are relatively narrow and few have sidewalks so both pedestrians and bikers must share the road with motor vehicles.
3. Traffic gridlock on El Camino.
The proposed medical office use is one of the most car-intensive uses. And it's the kind of use that has few mitigations - patients are going to drive to the doctor's office and are unlikely to carpool, take public transit or bike.
Stanford has two other projects nearby the expansion of Stanford Hospital on Sandhill as well as the proposed Stanford development in Palo Alto at University Ave next to the train station are expected to generate 3000+ daily additional cars.
4. Lack of Public Benefit.
The above mentioned burdens are not off-set by public benefits. We looked forward to additional vibrancy from local retail, and low-impact senior housing that serve our community. We looked forward to a bike-pedestrian undercrossing of the tracks to make it much easier and safer to get to Burgess Park and the Library. We didn't expect a traffic-intensive medical office park."
So far the project size has been reduced, more housing has been added, the medical offices have been eliminated and partial funding assured for the bike and pedestrian tunnel, there will be traffic studies and an expansion of the plaza.
And now they want a soccer field............!!!!
Jst so there is NO doubt about Save Menlo's refusal to accept any development on these parcels, except perhaps a free soccer field, here is Save Menlo's latest missive to the city council:
"SaveMenlo has hired the law firm of Shute Mihaly & Weinberger
and is ready to launch an initiative immediately should you allow the
Stanford project go forward."
No ifs, ands or buts..........
If you were Stanford where would you put your time and money:
"With none of the drama that has bogged down Stanford's development proposals in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, the Redwood City Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously gave the university's 35-acre satellite campus project its blessings.
"I really think this project is going to be a catalyst for us to expand the excitement and everything that's going on downtown further south," commission Chairman Ernie Schmidt said before the vote. "I think this is huge."
Plans for the Stanford in Redwood City project now will go to the city council for approval, possibly by next month."
At some point Stanford will just shift its planned Menlo Park investment to Redwood City. And just look at a map to see what route people will take to get from the Redwood City Campus to the Stanford Medical Center - the State Road knows as El Camino Real.
A victory by Save Menlo will be a defeat in terms of lost revenue, lost housing, lost jobs and increased traffic - what a victory.
Stanford's campus extension would be bordered by Highway 101, Douglas Avenue, Bay Road and Second Avenue in an area called MidPoint Technology Park. Eight buildings would be demolished and 13 constructed in their place, offering as much as 1.5 million square feet of offices, research and development space and medical clinics, according to city Planning Manager Blake Lyon."
Please just approve something so we can get rid of the long vacant empty car lots!
Frankly, I'd prefer the whole area be developed with a range of apts and condos, mostly for seniors, public employees and stanford students. Now that rents have jumped to bubble pricing again, there are too few affordable options and 100s vying for each opening, further driving up rents. Some landlords are even charging 6-9000 a month for places that recently went for 3000. Gouging.
To compare Midpoint Technology Park near 101 in Redwood City with this section of El Camino in Menlo Park is silly. Midpoint already has 13 buildings representing 1M sq. ft. of office/R&D. Stanford has plans to refurbish or replace the buildings they purchased, over time. I don't see any connection here at all.
"To compare Midpoint Technology Park near 101 in Redwood City with this section of El Camino in Menlo Park is silly."
Silly only if you do not look at the facts - which, regrettably is the norm for this forum.
The two project are about 5 miles apart in immediately adjacent cities.
Stanford Redwood City MTP - On 35 acres eight buildings would be demolished and 13 constructed in their place, offering as much as 1.5 million square feet of offices, research and development space and medical clinics. That is 42,857 sq ft/acre without any housing.
Stanford ECR-SE - On 8.43 acres 8 buildings would be demolished and 5(?) buildings constructed in their place offering as much as 425,000 square feet of offices, retail and housing. That is 50,415 sq ft/acre including the 170 housing units.
Both projects will contribute to increased traffic on ECR in Menlo Park since the shortest distance between Stanford Redwood City MTP and the Stanford Medical Center is via ECR in Menlo Park.
The Stanford Redwood City MTP is being welcomed by Redwood City while a small number of vocal MP residents are threatening to sue, call for a long delaying ballot measure and vowing to fight this project to the death.
Why shouldn't Stanford just shift its proposed MP investment to Redwood City and take full advantage of both its welcome and the ECR corridor?
BTW, IF Stanford shifts its proposed MP ECR-SE investment to Redwood City and takes full advantage of both its welcome and the ECR corridor then MP would lose revenue, lose housing, lose jobs and get increased ECR traffic.
What a victory for Save Menlo!
What a loss for Menlo Park!
"BTW, IF Stanford shifts its proposed MP ECR-SE investment to Redwood City and takes full advantage of both its welcome and the ECR corridor then MP would lose revenue, lose housing, lose jobs and get increased ECR traffic."
Is there one shred of evidence -- one hint, even -- that Stanford views these disparate projects in the manner you suggest, Peter? Have we had any indication from the university or its development representatives that a Redwood City red carpet welcome might forestall activity on the 500 ECR property? The answer is a resounding no, I'll wager, and I agree with Mr. Keenly that any comparison between the projects/properties in Redwood City and Menlo Park is silly, at best.
Honestly, as one who ceaselessly clamors for "just the facts," what do you hope to achieve with this baseless speculation? Has this sort of FUD-mongering served you well on the Fire Board or in some other capacity? Stanford played a gambit with its initial proposal and its clever manipulation of the Specific Plan process. That gambit failed to net the university a quick mate, and now the clear majority of Menlo Park residents who speak at City Council meetings and send email to the Planning Commission and Council are battling the university for a draw, though I'll grant that what that draw looks like is unclear at this point.
Gern - I do not speak for Stanford. I am just stating that a prudent developer being welcomed by Redwood City while a small number of vocal MP residents are threatening to sue, call for a long delaying ballot measure and vowing to fight a Menlo Park project to the death might well decide to shift its investment to the friendlier community. IF is does that then MP would lose revenue, lose housing, lose jobs and get increased ECR traffic.
As for comparing the Stanford Redwood City MTP project and the Stanford MP ECR-SE project - I have provided the facts for that comparison. Of course, if you believe that nothing can compare to Menlo Park, particularly Redwood City, then you can and will ignore the facts.
And you are correct the small vocal opposition has made a lot of noise but that does not begin to constitute the views of the majority of the citizens. Sadly you and others have vowed to push this to the ballot and also to sue and as a consequence the project will be delayed to the point where it may well no longer be of interest to Stanford. And if that happens none of you will be in a position to be held accountable for the huge loss to the community.
It is so sad that none of you have come up with specific suggestions to improve this project except to have it become a soccer field for "our" kids (heaven forbid that kids from beyond "your" neighborhood invade your space)>
Peter is right. I observed the recent council meeting on this issue in order to get a better idea of status and to hear SaveMenlo articulate its position. I was ready with an open mind. I expected a big turn out given the interest in the topic and the apparent perception that Council was actually voting on the latest building proposal. I'd say SM was 10-12 people, that is it! Aside from a couple of calm and reasonable suggestions for council from one gentleman, the rest of the commentary actually had little useful content and, more importantly, no actionable suggestions. If I were a council member, I would not have heard anything at all that seemed useful in considering the issues in this complex matter. In addition, one of the speakers was clearly out of order and came across as rude to the proceedings and disrespectful to the representative from Stanford. What I concluded was that this small organization is focused on old fashioned protest, rather than reasoned dialogue about how to get the best solution for our town.
One of the very real concerns is that the Stanford project in Menlo Park is along the main thoroughfare that cuts through the center of our town. It's also going to be dumping traffic onto the thoroughfare and into adjacent neighborhoods. Peter points out that it's more dense, nearly 20% more dense, than Stanford's Redwood City project that is adjacent to a freeway and within a commercial area of that city.
That's the heart of the issue -- the site in Menlo Park is not appropriate for the density of an office park.
Don't for a minute think that stanford won't develop the site. They can be sly, but they aren't stupid enough to leave valuable land undeveloped now that the ground leases are about up.
Stanford Redwood City MTP project does not connect with 101 but is served by local roads.
Without the housing the Stanford ECR-SE is 40% less dense than the Stanford Redwood City MTP project.
" they aren't stupid enough to leave valuable land undeveloped now that the ground leases are about up."
The land is ONLY valuable if the owner is permitted to develop and economically viable project - for example, a soccer fields would not be economically viable.
Stanford's carrying costs for the vacant parcels are only the very low property taxes based on Prop 13 limited valuation of the existing buildings - which have been there for a very long time.
I am touched by Peter's concern for MP and agree with him, think the project should not move to RWC
It should be put in Atherton.
It's a great location and the city could use the tax revenue.
Atherton needs to cut pensions for firefighters, and they city is trying to recover 8K they spent when Obama visited. They are really short there.
I know Peter Carpenter would be behind this 100%. He's a reasonable guy and forward thinking.
Fly over in your future.
If the El Camino 500 goes ahead at 3+ stories, the amount of traffic congestion on Rt 82 will force CA to get involved. CA and the Bay Area can get involved over air quality and fix the chronic congestion on State Route 82.
My guess is CA will eliminate cut through traffic on El Camino by reconnecting Willow to Sand Hill Rd with a fly over like Rt 92. That would get traffic into Stanford Hospital quickly and take pressure of University Ave.
Here's a google map with a flyover the creek.
Don't be fooled into thinking MP can absorb the traffic or that these office workers will ride a train or bus to work. Some lower paid cleaning and support staff will, but not the majority of the workers.
Impossible? Remember the State and a lawsuit just forced MP to add 1000+ units of housing.
Joe - You destroy your credibility with statements like "Atherton needs to cut pensions for firefighters". The Town of Atherton doesn't have any firefighters.
Atherton residents receive fire and emergency medical services from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District which also serves the citizens of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto and some unincorporated areas of the county. The Fire District was established on September 16, 1915 - before Menlo Park , Atherton and East Palo Alto ever existed.
I challenge those that are opposed to the Stanford project to come forth with SPECIFIC recommendations as to how that project might be improved for the benefit of the ENTIRE community.
Do you want more housing or less?
Do you want a pedestrian and bicycle connection to Alma or not?
Do you want the garage connected to both ECR and Alma to share the traffic load or not?
Exactly how large in terms of square footage do you want the project to be?
How much of the Specific Plan mandated open space at Alma do you want devoted to non-vehicular use?
Do you want the project built at all or would you prefer the status quo?
And most important, do all of you agree on the above answers?
Since the opponents are unwilling to answer the questions posed above I think it is time to put this opposition to rest. In order to place this issue on the ballot of the next general election the opponents would need about 1800 signatures of registered Menlo Park voters and in order to place in on a special election ballot they would need about 2700 signatures of registered Menlo Park voters. i have reviewed all of the Town Forum comments posted by identified Menlo Park residents and all of the emails and public comments to the city council by residents and there are less than 100 unique identified individuals who have spoken out against this project. It appears highly unlikely that they could obtain the required signatures particularly IF they provided each potential signer with a copy of the latest staff report and the subcommittee report (you do believe in full disclosure don't you?).
It is time to move on.
In spite of the reality that, as noted above, there are less than 100 unique identified individuals who have spoken out against this project Petry claims in a Sept 3 email to the council that there is "widespread, continuous and increasingly unanimous opposition to" the 500 ECR project.
This is a perfect example of an outlandish claim begin made by someone who has no apparent contact with the vast majority of the citizens of Menlo Park. If you only talk with people who agree with your point of view then, of course, 'everyone' agrees with you.
Time to move on.
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