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Exaggerated traffic claims against Measure T -- NO!
Original post made
by Morris Brown, Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Oct 20, 2010
In today's Almanac (10/20/2010) is a letter from Planning Commissioner Katie FerricK:
Exaggerated traffic claims against Measure T
There has been a lot of talk about the expected traffic increase caused by Measure T (allowing Bohannon to build office-hotel complex). The opposition is exaggerating when referring to traffic.
What they don't tell you is that U.S. 101 and Highway 84, not service streets, will handle 90 percent of traffic related to this project. According to the draft environmental impact report, after this project is built and before mitigation is implemented, the amount of time you will wait at major intersections during peak hours will increase by only a few seconds.
To mitigate the traffic caused by this project, improvements will be made to seven intersections, including additional traffic signals, right-turn lanes, left-turn lanes, and merge lanes. The Bohannon Development Company will be paying $2.5 million to make these improvements.
The development company has also established a transportation demand management (TDM) program which includes shuttle services to Caltrain, a vanpool program, subsidized public transit passes, and bike lockers and showers for employees.
Now that you know the truth about traffic, you need to know the truth about the benefits. When built, this project is projected to generate $1.67 million in net annual revenue for our city, and create 1,900 temporary jobs and 2,500 quality permanent jobs with many having first priority hiring preference for Menlo Park residents. This is a huge opportunity for our city and will put fellow Menlo Park residents back to work. To me, that is worth waiting a few extra seconds at an intersection
Please vote "Yes" on Measure T.
Katie Ferrick Planning Commissioner Bay Road, Menlo Park
I wish to respond
Quite frankly, I respect Katie Ferrick, but her letter is anything but telling the truth about traffic. I copy below what took place in a discussion about the TDM measures and their effectiveness: Katie was at that planning commission meeting, but apparently has forgotten the true situation on traffic.
The Planning Commission voted 4:3 to approve the project, but the approval was sent to the council with a number of conditions. One of these conditions was the PC wanted a 50% reduction in traffic. What they ended up with was really only a 7% reduction.
You just can't ignore a five fold increase in traffic at an intersection, which even today gets congested. To meet the CEQA requirements the Council had to approve Findings of Overriding Consideration because these impacts are unmitigated, and can't be mitigated to insignificant levels.
Even Mayor Cline, a big supporter of the project said "101 will be a Gawd Awful Mess"
As for Katie's other points:
1. revenue: No money in the near future that's for sure. 8 to 10 years away at best. With the equivalent of 15 Empire State Buildings vacant in Silicon Valley, this project is going nowhere fast, yet the City can't first study and do a planning process for the area that makes sense. Pray tell, where is all the housing going to go.
2. Jobs. Again far far into the future.
Vote No on T. see:
which has much more factual information.
Planning commission exchange:
Please read this exchange between Planning Commissioner Kadvany and the EIR traffic consultant.
KADVANY: ... That is probably EIR protocol, but basically the EIR says it's unlikely that the TDM would reduce impacts both, you know, below significant levels. So can we take those as equivalent and, you know, should I -- should I -- I mean, it's one thing to say I'm being conservative. It's another thing to say I don't expect -- you know, given the nature of what we understand of this program --
MR. SPENCER: Let me see if I can clarify.
COMMISSIONER KADVANY: You understand what I'm saying.
MR. SPENCER: I understand. I get that question quite a bit.
A TDM program, Transportation Demand Management program sets out a series of activities by providing things such as bicycle lockers, by contributing towards employees' shuttle passes, transit passes, perhaps contributing to the existing shuttle, for Caltrain, providing pedestrian amenities. It could be a number of different things. Anything that reduces the number of trips coming to a site, encouraging carpooling, vanpooling, transit, walking, biking and so forth.
As a transportation professional, all of these are extremely important and very, very worthwhile things to do. One of the issues that we have in our industry as traffic professionals is that it's very hard to come up with a very quantitative[,]for sure[,] analysis that says if I implement measures A, B, C and D, I know for sure I'm going to reduce the number of trips by X percent, and across --the more mixed use you have, the more opportunity you have to be successful.
This project is mixed use. It does have a good chance of having a success -- a successful TDM program. But realistically, we can't quantify it with some level of certainty that could withstand a challenge under a CEQA document. So while we encourage these measures and we say these are good to do, we don't know for sure if the level of reduction in trips would be enough to reduce the -- the impact to that less than significant level.
Posted by The Facts on the Record
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 20, 2010 at 11:01 pm
Katie Ferrick's letter was right on.
Menlo Park residents will NOT be misled by the distortions and scare tactics of a small group of opponents in their recent mailer. All the issues traffic, revenue, jobs, public benefits, school/housing impacts and more were thoroughly examined during the lengthy public review process.
As a result of this deliberative process, the Planning Commission and City Council approved Menlo Gateway subject to a public vote on Measure T.
Traffic: "Gridlock" scenarios have been grossly exaggerated by the opposition. The vast majority of car trips will happen away from residential neighborhoods. The two most impacted intersections are on Bayfront Expressway, on the east side of Highway 101. Car trips will be distributed throughout the day, primarily on the Highway 101 and 84 corridors. And the developer is required to pay more than $2.5 million for intersection improvements to improve traffic flow. Also, the city imposed the most stringent trip reduction requirements ever for a Menlo Park project. These include frequent shuttles to two Caltrain stations paired with free transit passes and car/van pool incentives all designed to reduce car trips, with monetary penalties to ensure trip limits are met.
(See Draft Environmental Impact Report: Figure 3.11-18 Trip Distribution Percentages (page 3.11-26), and June 15 Staff Report, Attachment I, Draft Ordinance approving the Development Agreement, including the Development Agreement.)
New Revenue for Menlo Park. The opponents say that Menlo Gateway will provide "No Immediate Revenue." This project will take a number of years to build, so of course revenue won't be immediate…but it will be significant and provide a long-term NET revenue stream of $1.67 million every year for the city's General Fund. Net means new revenue after factoring in costs. But voting No on T means no new revenue for the city.
(See "Fiscal Impact Analysis of Proposed Development on Constitution and Independence Sites" Final Report, March 2010, prepared by Bay Area Economics for the City of Menlo Park, page 46, Table 30, Project column.)
New Jobs. Again, opponents say job creation won't be immediate. Is that a serious reason to vote against Menlo Gateway? Once underway, Menlo Gateway will create jobs and lots of them: approximately 1,800 local jobs during construction, and more than 2,500 new, permanent jobs once the project is builtmany with hiring preference for Menlo Park residents, focused on Belle Haven's JobTrain program. A no vote means none of these jobsever.
(See: "Fiscal Impact Analysis of Bohannon Mixed Use Project for Constitution and Independence Sites," Working Draft (June 2007) prepared by Brion & Associates for the Bohannon Development Organization, page 33, Table 8, bottom of Proposed Mixed Use Project column. (The BAE Report did not include construction job estimates).)
Housing Demand. More tall tales! Opponents imply that Menlo Gateway will trigger a demand for 1,779 new homes in Menlo Park. The real story is that Menlo Gateway would create demand for only 76 new housing units in our city when the project is complete. And the project would provide $8 million for the city's Below Market Rate (BMR) housing fund.
(See "Fiscal Impact Analysis of Proposed Development on Constitution and Independence Sites," Final Report, March 2010 prepared by Bay Area Economics for the City of Menlo Park, page 56, Table 34.)
Revenue for Schools. Opponents say that Measure T would hurt the Menlo Park schools and the Fire District. Another distortion! Opponents used wildly improbable scenarios to calculate the impact of new housing units in each potentially affected school district. In reality, Menlo Gateway will generate $1.8 million in property taxes per year that will go to local schools, including those in the Sequoia Union High School district (which includes Menlo-Atherton High School) and San Mateo Community College district, serving thousands of students from Menlo Park.
(See: Fiscal Impact Analysis of Proposed Development on Constitution and Independence Sites" Final Report (March 2010) prepared by Bay Area Economics (BAE) for the City of Menlo Park, page 28, Table 16, Project column.)
And City Council candidate and Fire District Board President Peter Ohtaki has endorsed Menlo Gateway and Yes on Measure T!
Right Size, Right Location. Menlo Gateway will be located on an ideal site for this type of project, right off two highways and away from most residential neighborhoods. It will replace outdated industrial buildings on the east side of Highway 101 with an environmentally sustainable hotel/health club/office complex that sets the standard for innovative green multi-use buildings on the Peninsula.
A Good Deal for Menlo Park. Opponents say this is a "Sweetheart Deal" written by the developer. The fact is that Menlo Gateway went through four years of city-controlled process and was ultimately approved by the Planning Commission and City Council after they required the developer to accept many modifications. The benefits to Menlo Park are numerous and worthwhileotherwise there would not be the broad coalition of supporters endorsing Measure T.
All facts are publicly available: Details can be found on the Menlo Park City website at Web Link. Financial information, traffic information, city benefits and more are all detailed on the website. Look for yourself and then decide.
The small group of opponents hasn't wanted this project from the beginning. Nothing will satisfy them. They just want to defeat T and pass up on this rare opportunity.
Voters should indeed focus on the facts and then they will join with the hundreds of Menlo Park residents and groups who are voting Yes on Measure T.
I have faith that people will not get distracted by the distortions of the naysayers. They do what's best for Menlo Park.
Vote YES on Measure T.