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Why businesses consider Menlo Park to be an unfriendly City

Original post made by Peter Carpenter on Feb 24, 2010

The Almanac has just reported:

Bohannon project schedule delayed

The approval process for the million-square-foot Menlo Gateway office/hotel development proposed by develop David Bohannon has been delayed, as Menlo Park works to revise its analysis of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the project.

City management originally expected to present the City Council with a draft term sheet at its Feb. 23 meeting following negotiations with the Bohannon Development Co.

Now, the city hopes to do so in early April, and to prepare the project for a final vote prior to the council's summer recess.

The shift could mean a crowded agenda for the council and Planning Commission in late spring and early summer, as the city unveils preliminary long-term plans for the downtown area, and works to pass a budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
*************
Time is money for a business and here go another 2-3 months at least.
And after the greenhouse gases report then someone will ask for a report on the impact of the project on world peace.

Comments (23)

Posted by Just Wondering, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Thanks for your input, Pete. Isn't there something going on in your town currently that you should be taking care of, instead of trying to re-start an old thread on Menlo Park by just citing a news story and then making a snide comment?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I was just wondering if anybody appreciates the impact on prospective businesses who are considering locating in Menlo Park of constantly changing the rules on someone who is trying to bring job, taxes and a significant upgrade of existing properties to the city.

Perhaps some people can do more than just wondering about such things.


Posted by Just Wondering, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:16 am

Uh, Pete, it's good old Bohannon who wants to change the (zoning)rules - with no strings attached, of course.

Get you facts straight.


Posted by not wondering at all, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:33 am

Menlo Park's rules are clearly articulated and consistent. Bohannon doesn't just want to change the rules -- he wants to throw out the rule book, at least as it applies to him.

Remember: our council members and commissioners are volunteers who will not benefit either way, whereas Bohannon stands to profit immensely from this project. We are fortunate to have a planning commission and council that insist on doing what is best for the city and its residents over the long-term.

Eventually, there will be a compromise, Bohannon will build his project, and he will make a lot of money, maybe not as much as he would have if he'd gotten everything he wanted, but the damage to the city will be minimized and the benefits maximized thanks to the negotiation process.

I am glad we no longer have a council that's in the pockets of the developers.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

not wondering at all ( related to just wondering?) states:"Menlo Park's rules are clearly articulated and consistent."

Please post the Menlo Park ordinance which requires a greenhouse gases emission study for ANY proposed development.


Posted by Just Wondering, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 26, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Pete,

You once again blithely went right past the main point made: Bohannon wants to change the rules. And to be able to do so, it is well within MP city council's rights to make him jump through as many hoops as they deem necessary, whether those hoops are already officially on the books or not.

Once again, in trying to act so high and mighty, you've made a totally worthless/invalid point.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 26, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Yes, the applicant is clearly asking, as required by the rules, for a change in zoning but the City is changing the rules in the middle of the review process.

Just wondering has still not answered my question:
Please post the Menlo Park ordinance which requires a greenhouse gases emission study for ANY proposed development.


Posted by Just Wondering, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Pete:
"Yes, the applicant is clearly asking, as required by the rules, for a change in zoning"

No it's NOT that he's playing by the rules - he's asking to BREAK the rules (essentially what "not wondering at all" points out above).

You're playing hardcore, Bill O'Reilly-level spin there with that one, Pete.

BTW: I thought you stopped posting to this forum? [Portion removed; personal attacks violate terms of use]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 26, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just wondering - you and I seem to be the only ones interested in this topic.

I would like to invite you to lunch and let's see if we can sort out our differences of opinion.

I stopped posting only until the moderators could begin exercising some control and get rid of the trash talk - which they did quite nicely.

"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. "



Posted by not wondering at all, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Sorry for the delay, Peter, too busy lately to do any research, and I am by no means an expert on environmental issues. Here's what I just found:

* The state legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, requiring statewide attention to a reduction in greenhouse gases.

* Subsequent acts of the legislature established policies and modalities to help local areas reduce greenhouse gas emission.

* The city council established reduction of greenhouse gases as a goal in 2007; staff prepared a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Analysis that year.

* In 2008, the city decided to develop a Climate Action Plan and was given funding to do so. That plan established multiple strategies for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

You can read more at Web Link

Your implication is that the greenhouse gas emissions standards were enacted solely to harass Bohannon. I trust that you now understand that the city has been working hard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the board, that those standards are applied to all development, and that Bohannon is being treated no differently from anyone else. Must be painful for him, but in Menlo Park, those are the rules.



Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just wondering states:"Your implication is that the greenhouse gas emissions standards were enacted solely to harass Bohannon. "

No need for implication, my question was "Please post the Menlo Park ordinance which requires a greenhouse gases emission study for ANY proposed development."

Still waiting........


Posted by not wondering at all, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:12 pm

I'm not sure what you mean by "ordinance." Did you even look at the page I cited? It clearly documents that the council, which is the ruling legislative body of our city, has decreed that action shall be taken to reduce greenhouse gases.

True, such reduction was not part of the city's original code, but ignoring newly established rules for that reason is akin to saying that you refuse to abide by any laws that Congress has enacted since the U.S. Constitution was ratified!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The rules are rules and ordinances are the ONLY way that a City can establish rules.

Where is the Menlo Park ordinance which requires a greenhouse gases emission study for ANY proposed development?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is what the referenced page says:" Staff feels that it is important to present the CAP for Council's consideration prior to approval of the FY 2009-10 budget, so that some of the strategies may be considered for analysis, funding and implementation during next fiscal year. "

So why apply new "rules" to this project when those rules are only being considered for analysis, funding and implementation during the 2010/11 fiscal year?

Seems like changing the rules in the middle of the game. No wonder businesses are skeptical when dealing with Menlo Park.


Posted by not wondering at all, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Squabbling over semantics seems pointless, especially as the only city ordinances that are easily located online are those pertaining to zoning. Besides, if you're correct and there is no law that requires adherence to green building standards, then you've just negated your original premise, which is that Menlo Park is unfriendly to businesses!

I did learn that the state just passed stringent green building requirements, to take effect as of January next year, that may override Menlo Park's existing rules anyway.

Bottom line:

* Vis a vis greenhouse emissions, Menlo Park is no more unfriendly than any other city and may have looser standards than some other cities.

* This project is not being targeted for unfair treatment.

Check. And mate.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 27, 2010 at 7:23 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just wondering and I have a simple difference of opinion:
I feel that the rules should be clear so that any business knows exactly what is expected when they approach the city for a zoning change,

Just wondering thinks it is OK for businesses to just wonder what the rules are.

Game, Set and Match


Posted by Just Wondering, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 27, 2010 at 9:56 am

[Post removed; stick to the topic and refrain from attacking other posters]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 27, 2010 at 10:04 am

[Post removed; stick to the topic]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 27, 2010 at 10:25 am

Getting back ontopic.

Bohannon has requested a zoning change.

Here is the Menlo Park Ordinance requirement regarding such a request:
16.88.020 Public hearing requirement. Upon receipt of a petition or resolution of intention of amendment the planning commission secretary shall set a date for a public hearing thereon, but not later than sixty days after the receipt of such petition or resolution. If the proposed amendment consists of a change in the boundaries of any district, the planning commission shall give notice of the time and place of such hearing, and the purpose thereof, in the manner designated in Section 16.84.020. If the proposed amendment is of a matter of general or city-wide scope, notice thereof shall be given as provided in Section 16.84.030.
16.88.030 Planning commission action. After the close of the public hearing or continuations thereof, the planning commission shall make a report of its findings and its recommendations with respect to the proposed amendment. The commission report shall include a list of persons who testified at the hearing, a summary of the facts adduced at the hearing, the findings of the commission, and copies of any maps or other data or documentary evidence submitted in connection with the proposed amendment. A copy of such report and recommendation shall be transmitted to the city council within ninety days after the first notice of hearing thereon; provided however, that such time may be extended with the consent of the city council or the petitioner for such amendment. In the event the planning commission fails to report to the city council within the aforesaid ninety days or within the agreed extension of time, the amendment shall be deemed approved by the planning commission. The recommendations of the planning commission on proposed amendments shall be adopted by a majority vote of the voting members of the planning commission.
16.88.040 City council action. Upon receipt of the recommendation of the planning commission or expiration of the aforesaid ninety days or agreed upon extended period, the city council shall hold a public hearing thereon, giving notice thereof as provided in Chapter 16.84; provided, however, that if the matter under consideration is an amendment that would change property from one district to another, and the planning commission has recommended against the adoption of such amendment, the city council shall not be required to take further action unless the planning commission action is appealed. After the conclusion of such hearing, the city council may, within one year, adopt by ordinance the proposed amendment or any part thereof set forth in the petition or resolution of intention in such form as the council deems desirable.

**********
No mention of a requirement for a greenhouse gases study and certainly some obligations on the City for timely action which have been greatly exceeded.


Posted by not wondering at all, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 27, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Yes, if you look only at the zoning ordinance, you will overlook many other rules and regulations that apply to all new construction.

Bohannon's present project is moving through the system rapidly; pretty amazing considering its size.

Tough to acknowledge when you're licked, eh?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm

the wonderers state:"Yes, if you look only at the zoning ordinance, you will overlook many other rules and regulations that apply to all new construction. "

Please be so kind to educate us about those rules and regulations, particularly as they speak to the requirement for a greenhouse gases study.


Posted by Just Wondering, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 2, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Hey Pete:
Glad to see that you read my post before it was deleted. At least you know where I stand.
Interesting to see that you apparently struck back in an uncivilized manner. I guess I struck a cord there - chalk one up for me.
I'll let you get back to your battle with Not Wondering At All, although it looks like he's gotten weary of your relentlessness.
Ah, better luck next time.
See ya around!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 4, 2010 at 7:41 am

One more piece of evidence -"Bank forecloses on former Gaylord India site. The project developer had spent years in drafting the proposal, including an extensive redesign based on input from residents in late 2007".

Here is the full article:

A bank has foreclosed on the El Camino Real property that served as the site of the former Gaylord India Restaurant, a Menlo Park official has confirmed. The owner of the property had recently obtained permission from the city to redevelop the site.

Menlo Park's City Council approved a plan in October 2009 for a new, two-story office building at the site, replacing a vacant one-story building. The project developer had spent years in drafting the proposal, including an extensive redesign based on input from residents in late 2007.

Deanna Chow, the Menlo Park senior planner who oversaw the approval process, confirmed that a bank had foreclosed on the property. The future of the development project is up in the air as long as the property doesn't have an owner. The use permit the council approved expires Oct. 20, 2010.

The phone rang off the hook at the number listed for Infiniti Partners, the real estate company that owned the property.


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